When shopping for sex toys, it’s important that you pay attention to what your toys are made of.
After all, these things are going to be on or in the most sensitive parts of your body. Knowing what goes into your toys lets you know how to properly clean them (see our cleaning guide here) as well as if the toys are body safe.
Why is it so important to worry about toy materials?
The sad truth of it is that sex toys are a largely unregulated industry. As a result, sometimes things are added to sex toys which have no business being there, and which may affect your health as the result of prolonged use.
The truth about phthalates
The chemical that garners the most negative buzz in the sex toy community is something called phthalates (“thal-ates”). Phthalates are a class of chemical plasticizers that are frequently added to plastics used in sex toys to increase their flexibility, making them softer and squishier.
According to the EPA, phthalates are “possible human carcinogens” and in other studies, they have been linked to neurological and reproductive issues. However, due to the lack of safety regulations in the US sex toy industry, there is nothing to force producers to accurately label whether their products contain phthalates or not.
How can I protect myself?
The first thing you can do is check the materials listed by the seller on the online item posting, or checking the product’s packaging. Toys that contain PVC, vinyl, and jelly rubber should be avoided as they often contain phthalates.
Even if a product made with these materials is labeled “phthalate free” remember that a lack of regulation can often mean that there is nothing backing up those claims.
Another way to know is by examining the toy outside of its packaging. If the toy is made from PVC, vinyl, or jelly rubber and it is squishy or bends then most likely phthalates have been added to soften the material.
Yet another identifier for phthalate-containing toys is that they will “weep” tiny drops of an oily discharge from their surface as they chemically degrade over time.
Look out for these warning signs, and you should be able to do your shopping worry-free.
Common Sex Toy Materials
These materials some from a mix of soft plastic and rubber. In general, they do not contain phthalates and they are latex free. These are soft and squishy, making them ideal for usage in toys like pocket pussies. Companies such as Fleshlight and Tenga often use TPR/TPE in their products as they give a more lifelike feel to the material.
However, these materials are very porous, meaning that bacteria are able to hide out within this material if the toys are not properly cleaned after use. Please refer to our guide on properly cleaning your porous toys.
Toys made from rubber are often some of the most affordable ones out there, as it’s cheap to manufacture and very flexible. However, this affordability comes at a price. Rubber toys often contain phthalates, which as detailed above can be harmful to your body. They also often contain latex, and are not suitable for those with latex allergies. In addition, rubber is a porous material and must be cleaned carefully after each use.
As with silicone and TPR/TPE toys, the best lubricant to use is a good quality water-based lube. You can also use silicone with these toys, but you should NEVER use oil or petroleum based lubes as these will cause the toy to deteriorate.
When storing rubber toys, make sure that they are not touching each other. Rubber toys that touch each other can wind up “melting” together as the materials react with each other.
Toys made with medical-grade silicone are some of the safest ones in production. Silicone is a non-porous material that is very unwelcoming for bacteria, making it extremely hygenic. Silicone can be firm or soft, and it easily warms to your body temperature to make for a more comfortable experience. Due to this as well as the fact that they are easy to clean, silicone toys are ideal for penetration. Silicone is also easy to clean since these toys are boilable, being able to withstand temperatures of up to 600 degrees.
The thing to remember when using a silicone toy is DO NOT USE SILICONE LUBE. Silicone lube will cause damage to the material, so with these toys, it’s better to stick with water-based lubes.
Glass toys are extremely versatile. They are often made with tempered glass, making them strong and resistant to temperature shock. If you enjoy temperature play, you can warm or cool them (carefully) beforehand with ease. Glass can withstand a lot of pressure, so no need to worry about it shattering while inserted.
This is a durable material, and as it is non-porous it is extremely easy to clean. It is also compatible with any lube that you choose, no worrying about corrosion. The downside is that if your toy becomes chipped, no matter how slightly, you have to dispose of it to make sure you are being safe.
This is another material that is very versatile. Toys made from steel or aluminum often have a sleek and elegant look to them. Like glass, they can be warmed up or cooled down before use for new sensations. These materials are also compatible with all types of lubricants. However, take into account that toys made from metals are often heavier than other materials, so be careful when using them.
The fact that they are non-porous, extremely hygienic and easy to clean make this a very attractive material, and as a result we see more and more sex toys being made from these every year.
Hard Plastic (ABS)
ABS is generally a hard plastic, and contains no phthalates (a softener). As this is a cheaper material, you can often find many toys such as vibrators that are made from ABS at very affordable prices. These toys are compatible with any type of lubricant, and very durable.
The downside is that hard plastic toys can often be on the louder side, and when cleaning you cannot bring these toys to a high temperature (as you can with silicone, glass, and steel/aluminum) without damaging the material so they must be cleaned with care.
Why would someone want to play with glass?
If you’ve never used a glass dildo before then you are in for an unbelievable treat not only are they beautiful sculptures of art they’re also the ultimate pleasure bringer. Everything about glass is fantastic, there are so many pros and very little cons about these dildos. So lets start with the pros.
They are beautiful, you can get them in various shapes, sizes and colours they look more like works of art than they do sex toys. The vast array of different designs seem endless, there are smooth dildos, curved ones for G spot pleasure, ribbed, ones with bumps; there is pretty much a design for whatever takes your fancy! They would make fantastic gifts for loved ones or even a special treat for yourself.
What Lubricants to use
Because they are glass you don’t have to be concerned about what lubricant you are using, as any one can be used and your toy will not be damaged.
Cleaning your toy
They are also extremely easy to clean, one of the simplest toys out there to clean they can be washed in the sink and then sprayed with toy cleaner solutions, you can wipe them down and you can even put them in the dishwasher. No matter which cleaning method you use it will not damage your toy.
If that wasn’t enough to make you want to try glass then maybe the idea of temperature play will, because these are made out of glass you can use them to add a bit more excitement into your sex life by using temperature play. You can have them hot or cold. To heat your dildo simply place it in a cup of warm water, never boiling hot water (Although this won’t damage the toy) you may burn yourself, and never try to heat your dildo up in the microwave (Again it won’t damage the toy) as even though part of it may feel warm, microwaves are notorious for leaving hot spots and well that could really hurt. All you need to do is either run it under the tap whilst it’s warm, or you could fill up a jug of warm water and place it in there.
This again is the same for cooling your toy down. I am a huge fan of cold dildos, they feel amazing being rubbed against your skin, and then when inserted inside. For me the colder the better, so I like to leave it in a cup of crushed ice(If your going for that method then take it out of the ice for a minute before you use it as it might be a bit of a shock to the system) You can also run the cold tap and hold it under or again have a cold cup of water to put it in. If you really want to indulge your senses you could use a cup of warm water and cold water and try your hand at both. You will not be disappointed.
Cons (Or lack thereof)
And now the cons; well there really isn’t any, that I’ve found as of yet, my only suggestion would be that manufacturers provide a storage bag for them (Some already do) but if not you can purchase these for a couple of pounds to keep your toy safe.
Common questions about glass dildos:
Q: Will they break inside me?
A: No; I have so many glass dildos and never once have I managed to break one (They’ve even fallen off my bed a time or two and not a chip on them to be found) Glass dildos are made with borosilicate which makes them extremely durable. If you’re concerned about one breaking inside you, don’t be.
Q: Do they hurt?
A: No: I say no, it really all depends on the glass dildo that you’re using and if it’s right for you. With all the various shapes and sizes it’s all about finding a dildo that really suits your needs. It also depends on if you’ve warmed up enough first, and used enough lubricant. All toys have the ability to hurt you if used incorrectly.
Why would someone want to play with ceramic?
Ceramic dildos have been on the market for quite a while now, and I have the pleasure of owning a few different ones which I will review separately. What I want to talk about now is the benefits of ceramic vibrators and dildos, there are so many different types and shapes. What I love about ceramic dildos are how a like they are to glass yet how different they are also, now that sounds a bit contradictory but I will explain what I mean.
My opinions so far on ceramic toys are based on the Ceramix Pleasure Pottery range by Pipedream you can see the whole range here. The range itself comprises of dildos, butt plugs and vibrators.
Ceramic toys like glass toys are extremely easy to clean, you can wash them down in a basin filled with soapy water and wipe down (Ensure if you’re using a Ceramic vibrator that it is waterproof before doing that) alternatively you can just wipe them down and use a toy cleaner.
Again like with glass because they are ceramic you’re not limited to what type of lubricant you use it’s open season! Pick your favorite lube and away you go. What I will point out in regards to the Ceramix Pottery range some of the toys are hollow with a plug that is removable keep in mind that the plug itself is silicone and you may want to be careful with the lube around that area or use a good quality water based lubricant on the fillable toys from that range.
I love being able to play about with different temperatures during sex and solo masturbation it feels fantastic and it makes both sex and masturbation that little bit more interesting. Like with glass dildos you’re able to use temperature play with ceramic; depending on what dildo you’re using the options of how to heat/cool it will be different.
For instance ,the Ceramix No 5 Pleasure Pottery, this dildo is hollow. It has a plug at the bottom of it which can be removed and filled with either cold or warm water (Never boiling water, this can and more than likely will damage your toy) once you’ve filled it with your preference of temperature you just pop the plug back in and hey presto cold/warm dildo! What would be better?
Other dildos in this range aren’t hollow, these ones are vibrators these can be run under the warm (again never boiling) or cold tap, or alternatively placed inside a jug of cold/warm water to use.
I would also like to point out with these toys not to shock them, by that I mean do not put it in freezing water and then move it to hot water, this could cause your toy to shatter from the shock of the temperature change.
And now how it differs from glass, the hollow dildos in this range aren’t as rigid as glass so they’re not as hard. They feel more fragile (Take care not to drop them) and because of that they do feel amazing, the hollowness and the ability to fill them is fantastic. Even the vibrators although they’re not hollow again feel completely different from the sensation you feel when using a glass toy.